Dear Parishioners: Bishop Evans asked that I write the column this week as I prepare to move into Our Lady of Mercy.  I am looking forward to beginning my pastorate especially to meeting you in the coming weeks.  Over the last month I have visited the parish several times and met with the staff to learn more about them, the parish and the schedule for the upcoming year. I am looking forward to working with them in serving you and the needs of the parish.  Father Shemek and I are also getting to know one another.  We are both excited to be part of the OLM parish family.  He is still trying to get me to take a ride down Main Street with him on his motorcycle but I told him not until he gets a sidecar!

I am not unfamiliar with OLM as three of my nephews made their First Holy Communions here several years ago and my niece graduated from OLM School in 2006.  I remember the graduation Mass very well because I had to deliver the homily off the cuff as the scheduled homilist got the wrong time and failed to make the Mass on time.  Sister Jeanne also remembers my niece as one of her favorite students!  Over the years I have also presided at weddings and funerals of friends at Our Lady of Mercy and I know many parishioners already but I truly look forward to getting to know many more in the months ahead.  In fact, one of my many cousins is a parishioner of OLM and he tells me he and his family are at Mass every week.  If he’s not, he soon will be!

Of course, I was also a friend of your late Pastor, Monsignor Lolio, and was often a guest at OLM.  As you know, he was a generous host and frequently after some delicious pasta prepared by Monsignor we would play cards with friends Monsignor Albert Kenney and Bishop Matano. I have very fond memories of Monsignor Lolio who I knew to be a gracious host, a good friend, and a fine priest.  He has left an outstanding legacy at Our Lady of Mercy and I pray that I might continue to build upon the strong foundation he left behind.  May his noble soul rest in peace.

Since I am a little familiar with Our Lady of Mercy let me try to acquaint you with a little more about me.  I have been a priest for seventeen years and I truly love being a priest and serving God’s people.  Being a part of the Catholic Church and following Jesus Christ have been a source of great pride and joy throughout my entire life and the priestly work of preaching, teaching, and sanctifying are things that I thoroughly enjoy.

Over the years I was blessed to serve as the Assistant Pastor at St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Parish in Narragansett and St. Augustine Parish in Providence with two great pastors and mentors, Father Donald Bourassa and Monsignor Barry R.L. Connerton.  I loved working in the large school at St. Augustine where I spent seven years. The last nine years I have very happily been serving as the Pastor of St. Ambrose Parish in the village of Albion which is located in Lincoln, Rhode Island.  My first pastorate was a great blessing in my life and I am grateful for it.

For the last twelve years I have also served as the chief lobbyist for the Diocese of Providence at the R.I. Statehouse and I serve as the Director of the R.I. Catholic Conference which advocates and educates on public policy issues for the Church. I also write the editorials for the weekly diocesan newspaper, the Rhode Island Catholic, so make sure you have a subscription (!  And I serve as the Chaplain to the men and women of the R.I. Capitol Police Department.  I will continue these other part-time assignments while serving as Pastor of Our Lady of Mercy.

Now that’s what the official resume says but let me share with you some more personal information about myself.  I grew up in the Edgewood section of Cranston and I am the youngest of nine children, the uncle of thirteen nieces and nephews and the grand-uncle of two great nieces.  I was educated in the Cranston Public Schools.  Both my parents are now deceased as my Mother died when I was a senior in college and my Father passed away in May 2011 at the age of 88.  They instilled in me a love of the Catholic Faith that continues to grow stronger. They always practiced their Catholic faith and had a deep respect for marital love and family life that has been the foundation of my life as their son and as a son of the Church.

All of my brothers and sisters live in Rhode Island except for my sister and brother-in-law and their three daughters who reside in Saratoga, New York.  Unfortunately my brother-in-law and his three daughters (my nieces!) in New York are fans of the evil empire known as the New York Yankees and New York Giants (please pray for my sister who remains true to her Rhodey roots!).  I am a diehard Red Sox fan so it continues to be a long summer!  However, I am looking forward to the return of the NFL Football Season and the New England Patriots who I also passionately follow.  My family is a very important part of my life and you may see some of them around the parish from time to time.  Some of my nephews have informed me that they are excited about the playground and basketball courts at OLM!  We are a close family and I am blessed to have most of them nearby in Warwick, Jamestown, and West Greenwich. Although Saratoga is not a bad spot during the Horse Racing Season!

Without a doubt you are to learn more about me in the months ahead just as I hope to learn more about you and your families and this wonderful parish of Our Lady of Mercy.  Once again let me tell you how very pleased I am to have the great privilege to serve you as the Seventeenth Pastor of Our Lady of Mercy Parish.  Indeed I am very excited to begin my priestly ministry here with and for you and I look forward to the chance to meet you in person at Masses next weekend. Until then please know of my prayers for you as I humbly ask for your prayers for me.  God Bless.